HackSpace magazine

Boxes.py Review

By Ben Everard. Posted

Using parametrics in our designs allows us to customise an object to our needs. For example, a parametric box may let you enter the width, height, and depth, and then output the files needed to cut a box.

Boxes.py hosts a wide range of parametric designs for different structures, that you can tweak to your needs. As the name suggests, there are lots of boxes, but also trays, pulleys, gears, robots, and a miscellany of other parts. It’s not completely exhaustive in any area (though the range of different box designs is quite extensive), but does provide a good first place to check when you’re looking for parametric laser-cutting patterns.

It's available as a webpage, standalone program, or Inkscape plugin. Click here for details on installation. We found the webpage easiest to use.

It produces SVGs that you can download and import into your laser cutter software of choice. Depending on exactly how you drive your laser cutter, you may find that you have to adjust the colour or width of the lines on the SVGs in order for them to cut properly.

All the boxes are held together with finger joints which do work well, but it would be nice to have a few more options, particularly T-slots for cases that need to be put together and taken apart (these are available in the Python library, but don’t exist in any of the generator designs).

We printed out several designs including a ‘ShutterBox’ (which most British people will know as a bread bin), an ‘UnevenHeightBox’, and a ‘TwoPiece’ box. All cut well and fitted together securely. However, they don’t come with instructions. This isn’t a problem for the simple designs, but some of the more complex options (such as the ‘FlexBox’) can end up resembling 3D jigsaw puzzles.

Overall, this is a great repository of parametric laser-cut designs, but we’d appreciate a few more options for joint types.

Verdict: 8 out of 10

Lots of easy-to-use, laser-cuttable designs.